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My summer boyfriend recently moved back to school in another country and since then the communication has been very strained. I feel like I constantly am the one keeping conversations going and he never seems to have time for Skype yet is able to attend several parties or hang-outs with his school friends every week. I am realistic about less communication but I don't think asking to talk online once a week is too much to ask. How do I make him understand what I need without seeming too clingy? - Incommunicado at Ithaca
It’s a great start that you’re realistic about less communication with your boyfriend. You’re absolutely right in thinking that talking once a week is not only plausible, but also doable. It’s also great that you can talk fairly frequently, something that would seemingly be difficult when you live in two separate countries. However, when I was reading your letter, quite a few alarms went off in my head.
Incommunicado, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you felt the need to clarify that this was a “summer” relationship, how do you think he feels about it? For the most part, summer romance is exactly that – romance in the summer. Obviously, I don’t know the ins and outs of your relationship, but I’d put my money on him not feeling as though this is a very serious relationship. Look at it this way: when we’re away at college for roughly 8-9 months of the year, we (college students in general, not just guys or gals) establish what I like to call our “consistents”, meaning our consistent flirt, consistent date, consistent booty call, you name it. But when we go home, it’s a whole different story. Suddenly the booty call who lived only 10 minutes across campus is 4 hours away, and you’re stuck with no one to flirt with, no one to take out or take you out, and no late-night, sure-thing booty call. So, lacking any “consistent” in our life, we often irrationally jump into something with someone, convince each other and ourselves it’s “serious” and roll with it, never thinking twice about the consequences come September. In the summer, you’re a priority. You’re not competing with homework, his college buddies or, most importantly, fantasy football. Now, there’s a lot more things going on in his life and all the free time he thought he had for you is gone, including just a few minutes for something as simple as Skyping his girlfriend.
Let’s be real here. Having a serious, faithful, committed relationship in college is very hard. If you’re in the small population who has managed to find this, I congratulate you. For the rest of us, there’s a certain reality we have to face. College kids, and more specifically college guys, just want to have fun. Having an on-campus relationship is tough enough, and will typically fall into the category of a “consistent.” Relationships with someone who doesn’t go to your school, doesn’t know your friends and doesn’t fully grasp what your individual college experience is, though, is a relationship destined for stress, fights and a break-up. If your man doesn’t feel like this is a serious relationship to begin with (and let’s assume for now that he doesn’t), maintaining a relationship with you when you’re so many hours and a passport away isn’t exactly ideal. Whether this guy is abroad for a semester or just attends this school period, his “summer fling in the States” isn’t exactly what he’s telling girls about on Friday and Saturday nights.
So where do you go now? Well, Incommunicado, it’s time to be in communication with your man. Seeing as you talk frequently, this shouldn’t be too hard. Give him a call (out of the blue so he doesn’t know to avoid answering) and just tell him how hard this lack of communication is on you and what you want. Guys can’t read your mind – if you want us to know something, you need to say exactly what you want and not beat around the bush. It’s not clingy in a normal relationship to want to see the face of the person you’re with once a week. If he can’t commit to Skyping even once a week, it’s time to take a serious look at this relationship. He might be the man of your dreams, but if he’s incommunicado with you altogether, you might need to postpone this fairy tale until a passport isn’t necessary to see each other.